How Much Is a Presidential Visit Worth?

A visit from the president is the gift that keeps on giving, suggests marketing company Advocacy Media.
Business Writers
September 14, 2012

A visit from the president is the gift that keeps on giving, suggests marketing company Advocacy Media.

The company's research suggests the Commander-in-Chief's presence at a small business is a $500,000 prize, thanks to a 50 percent immediate increase in foot traffic, plus a "guaranteed" 25 percent to 30 percent increase in net gross profits for "at least the next three years."

(How do you get the president to visit your business? Click here.)

No wonder Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza, gave President Obama the now-infamous bear hug. (Duzer is a registered Republican who nonetheless said he planned to vote for Obama.)

Pre-Obama, the pizza shop had a four-star rating on Yelp and a handful of comments, according to Advocacy Media. (Yelp is the site nearly a third of consumers visit.) First Republicans and then Democrats took to the review site, with Republicans posting negative comments and sinking Big Apple's rating, and Democrats countering with a blitz that brought in 3,000 five-star ratings. Yelp then stepped in and removed all the
politically-motivated votes in an attempt, it told Advocacy Media, to "defend the integrity of the platform...Yelp has proven policies in place to deal with such events." 

When you consider that—according to the National Restaurant Association—most customers turn to online reviews when choosing dining spots (unless the place has, say, a Michelin star), it begins to make sense why a visit from the president would be such a boon. The visit lifts an otherwise relatively unknown business into the spotlight, which increases traffic, which increases reviews, which then further increases traffic, or at least sustains it.

Taylor Gourmet, the Washington DC sandwich shop the president visited in May, has had at least 17 Yelp reviews since then, or almost double the number it received in the three months prior to the visit. The president's 15-minute visit (where he ordered a "Spruce Street," a turkey hoagie with prosciutto, roasted red peppers and provolone) created its own stimulus package, according to DCist. Pre-Obama, the shop sold an average of 21 Spruce Streets at each of its four locations. After the May 16 visit, the number more than doubled, to an average of 53. 

The Barack Boost has been documented at other businesses. Del Ray Pizzeria said Obama's visit "put them on the map," while The Dairy Godmother owner Liz Davis told Advocacy that the President's 2009 visit added an additional 25 percent in business, which has held true year-over-year. "They (tourist) keep coming and coming..." she says.

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